Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Death of a Trailer

I woke Labour day after a lovely sleep. Gilbert and I walked for miles and returned to have coffee while Laura bathed. Next I showered while Laura stowed. Then together, as a team, I backed up the truck and she guided me to where it was aligned with the hitch. I'd raised the hitch just the right amount that with a kick the ball fit snugly into the cup. I put on the tension bars and chains and locked the whole thing down while Laura wound up the struts. I'd disconnected power and water, turned off the propane and locked all the doors. We pulled out of No. 20 and turned the corner. A family asked if we could give them a battery boost and we did.

At the sani station a fellow was already there emptying his tanks. I watched and asked questions. He was extremely helpful. Like Ryan he said, "Empty the black water with toilet paper and such, then empty the grey water from dish washing and showering. It works best that way." My turn came and Laura got out and helped me allign the outlet and sani disposal hole. The hose is stored in the back bumper. I got it out and twisted it on the outlet. Then I pulled the easily marked levers and sure enough gravity brought the black water out. When the hose had stopped moving and the sound of flow had finished I switched to the grey water. We waited a while longer for this to finish. Then it was done. I closed off the grey water and unhooked the hose, rinsed it all down with the handy water hose by the sani station and put everything away. I was ecstatic. "We did it."

We drove down Flood Hope Road and entered the Freeway. Everything was going well. I was going 80 km to 85 km with cars passing and getting some wind buffeting in the open. We'd entered the more wooded section and I remember I took my right hand off the wheel to adjust my glasses and suddenly the rig began to fish tail. Both hands on the wheel I tried to compensate, driving like Winnipeg black ice driving, while slowing with foot gently on the brake, but the trailer fish knifed passed me. Laura was screaming. I was perplexed because I couldn't figure why we weren't stopping but being carried in circle. I was in the next lane and worried most about on coming traffic having forgotten completely we were in the two lane same direction freeway. We'd slowed considerably but were just being carried into the ditch with Laura crying out, "We're going over."

I braced to roll but we just slid into the ditch with the trailer now behind us and us facing the on coming traffic. The trailer went over. That's for sure. It lifted us up before the tongue broke and the truck fell back to the ground. We were shook up.
Laura and Gilbert were fine. "Are you okay," I asked. "Yes, and Gilbert's fine. I held onto him the whole way." Gilbert looked confused and Laura looked a little in shock. I got out of the truck and told all the cars that stopped that we were okay. I dialed 911 and let the police know that we'd gone off the road and asked them to call a tow truck.

At that point a RCMP car arrived and really big guy got out and surveyed the damage, asking if everyone was okay. I told him, yes and then he asked for license and registration and the whole endless paperwork thing transpired while a fellow from the second car came to take pictures and block the lane for the big Davis Rescue tow truck to get in and do it's work. A woman had talked with Laura. The police man made sure she was alright. I checked in and she seemed fine.

I'd rolled a vehicle before when I was coming onto the freeway and someone had strewn the turn with anti vehicle military tacks that punctured my tires and caused me to just flip over and lie on my side like a dead cow. The plane crash I'd been in when the DC3 on landing skid into that ditch crumpling the wing big time and we'd all had to climb upwards out the side of the ship. Each time there'd been that sense of being in the hands of God. That's what Laura said, "I felt like there was nothing I could do but I knew I was in the hands of God. " She later said, "I thought we were going over a precipice and we were going to die." I'd never thought that we were going to die. Probably because I'd been through this in worst cases at higher speeds and this all just seemed in slow motion. The seat belts really did save us though.

I climbed into the trailer to get the papers and the whole insides looked like they'd been in a washing machine. It was a mess. The Stove and Refridgerator had torn out of the wall and were on their fronts. The coffee maker which had been in a bottom cupboard was in the top cupboard having flown kitty corner across the trailer. I understand now why people are not supposed to ride in the back. The plexiglass dishes were shattered in little pieces. Later, Laura, showing her daughter the mess inside would say, "We had a trailer trash party last night and I just haven't had time to clean up."

The RCMP were wonderful. Cst. Duane Hillier was courteous, kind, and helpful. The guys from Jamie Davis Towing and Recovery from Hope arrived and really knew their business. Everything seemed mangled to me. The hitch was twisted and the trailer tongue was collapsed and this big house was lying on it's side. Using a bolt cutter and a hammer they separated the twisted mangled hitch from the trailer then efficiently had the trailer righted with their hoist. They told me to try driving slowly out of the ditch in 4x4. I did this but on the flat it was obvious it wasn't drivable. The one tire was blown but the both tires were splayed outward and the exhaust and back frame was torsioned. Trailer and truck had been thoroughly mauled.

Laura had called her daughter Shannon. And now Ryan arrived in his big ford with his wife Shannon, and Laura's grandchildren, Paris, and the baby Kingston. Ryan has been driving big machines all his life and has a homungus motor home. Going out to help his mother in law in the ditch was just another family outing for him. He was getting Kingston started early in the family legacy of big vehicles. We jumped in with him and followed the mortally wounded trailer back to the compound. There Laura and Shannon got inside and unloaded the clothes and new sheets and comforter. Ryan and I cleared out the box of the mangled truck. I had my chain saw in there and found the portable winch behind the seat under the tarps and dog bed. It's amazing all the little useful things that get stuffed inside trucks, flash lights, knives, safety gear. We piled it all in the back of Ryan's truck.

He drove the family back to his place. Laura and Shannon had the ice cream bars out of the fridge and looking behind me here they all were eating ice cream bars looking like any old family outing. Paris was really happy to be with her grandmother and Kingston was really pleased to be with his daddy in daddy's big truck. Shannon was really glad her mom was a live and well. I felt stupid but really thankful Ryan was there. I realized I was kind of dazed. There was a surreal quality about the accident. I think it mostly had to do with a close brush with death. Even after I realized there was no on coming traffic I still couldn't shake that idea as it harkened back to other near misses. I noticed i was a bit jumpy and traffic seemed more intense. Laura was ecstatic to be with the little ones. She was all lit up and aglow with just being with Shannon. Mother love and family. And I was glad for Ryan. He's got a great sense of humor and it helped as I was quite distracted and increasingly aware I wasn't wholly present. A part of me was already reflecting on the Grace of God and another reminder it wasn't my time yet.

I also felt responsible but knew hindsight is a proctoscope. Still I was going over and over how quickly the whole thing had gone south.

While we were driving back to his place I phoned the ICBC 'dial a claim' and had a very pleasant person take all my details. Laura and Ryan helped answer questions she put to me which I couldn't answer. Laura had kept all the paperwork togther from the police and towing, the two insurance papers and I just read off numbers upon numbers till finally she gave me two claim numbers. I was getting stiff and sore by this time too wondering why my neck and back were feeling so much tension and yet I didn't remember any particular strain.

Though I have a top notch insurance record and had all the insurance possible, there wasn't apparently a rental car available on the labour day holiday. Ryan however phoned around and sure enough Budget had a truck I could use. So off we went leaving Laura with the girls and Kingston. They were having a grand visit with Paris showing Laura all her new back to school clothes and things. Kingston barely toddling was happy to hang out with the girls. Gage, the great dane, was entertaining Gilbert who is hugely impressed with Gage, whose greatest attraction is that he hardly notices Gilbert. Gage is the size of a horse and Gilbert despite jumping up and down and running circles around Gage is well below Gage's dog radar.

In a jiffy I was back at Ryan's picking up Laura, Gilbert and the new pillows and bedding we'd rescued along with our clothing. Good byes, thanks and hugs all round. Gage drooled on Gilbert who took this as big time praise and affection.

Then we were off. Traffic was surprisingly not backed up. "I guess no one else has rolled a trailer ahead of us." I said. We were both a little stunned on the way back.

I'd uploaded pictures to face book while I'd waited and Laura now looked at these delighted with the picture of her and the kids all eating ice cream. Everyone was glad we were okay.

"I really felt like I was in the hands of God and it would all be okay," she said. I felt the same. Faith is such a comfort.

Parking the rental truck, I trudged inside to a hot shower. Next I cancelled work. I was stiff and sore and dazed. "I'm afraid I'm no good to anyone else right now."
Laura laughed. "What do you expect. We've just been in a major car crash and I thought we were going to die."

I was going to live in that trailer along with the boat and now felt sort of 'homeless'.

Gilbert chased the cats and showed no evidence whatsoever of being 'traumatized'.

I loved Ryan saying, "You guys loved the trailer. When you were knocked down in a storm in your boat you didn't give up boating, did you." On the way back Laura and I decided we didn't want to give up trailer camping either.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Anonymous said...

I heard of your heroing experience through my good friend Randy and was so glad to hear you, Laura and doggie are all OK. Hope you have a speedy recovery!!
Warm Regards,

Randy said...

Great writing,

I loved the Nixon reference, along with many descriptions of parts of
your RVing tale.
I'm still chuckling over your lines.

It sounds like you all had a Great time.

The suddeness of the accident reminded me how fleeting life can be, so it's best to live it like you and Laura and make the most out of each day.

I better smarten up.

I thank God that your all safe and sound, though probably a bit sore.

Take Care